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My fundamental assumption about abortion is that it is the taking of innocent human life and is consequently never defensible. I am a pacifist and any kind of violence is abhorrence, but most especially lethal violence against an innocent person. I believe in the "Consistent Life Ethic" - a morality that excludes abortion, capital punishment, economic injustice, euthanasia, and war - and I also believe that violence done against another is violence done against the self.

One thing that I cannot understand about the public discussion of abortion is the argument in favor of abortion in the cases of rape. If you think that abortion is simply a personal choice to have a medical procedure, rape would be immaterial. A woman would just have an abortion at her own discretion, irrespective of how that pregnancy came about in the first place. If you think that abortion is the murder of a person, why would it be okay to murder a person who is the product of rape? It would certainly be a very difficult thing to bring that child to term, but would that justify murder?

Those who are pro-choice and pro-life need to understand that the others believe in their positions as fervently as they do and both sides should assume charity on the part of the other. I have heard those who are pro-choice use slanderous terminology toward my point of view (e.g. labeling me "anti-choice") and making broad and ignorant assumptions about my religious beliefs and whether or not I want to oppress women. I can understand that those who disagree with me believe in their convictions deeply and are not necessarily persons of bad faith; I would appreciate reciprocity. Also, both of these camps need to understand how the other frames the debate so they are not talking past one another: as I understand it, pro-lifers are primarily concerned with taking innocent human life; pro-choicers are primarily concerned with continuing women's liberation and personal autonomy.

I think that liberals have tried to undermine the terms pro-choice and pro-life because of the obvious implications - the "other guy" is anti-choice or anti-life. While it's noble to try to challenge these implicit problems, it's also a fool's errand. These terms are not going away and really, we need to just accept them for what they are: they are a badge of pride to those who use them and essentially a political slur for the others. It's best to keep on using those terms, as any new coinages will only encourage more new slurs and momentarily derail any substantive discussion to a semantic debate or a semantic shouting match. For better or worse, these are the words we have and no alternative is going to be better.

In closing, I would also like to point out that the argument from ignorance is clearly on the pro-life side. If we don't or can't know when personhood begins, we surely must err on the side of protecting innocent human life. This is the same assumption that is embedded in our legal system: innocent until proven guilty. Pro-lifers also need to stop combating abortion by assuming that illegalizing it will just make the problem go away. They need to provide the services to induce women to not want them in the first place as well as try to convince women of the reality that abortion is murder. Many women simply will not believe that and amongst those who do, they might still sanction the procedure (e.g. Naomi Wolf "Abortion should be legal; it is sometimes even necessary. Sometimes the mother must be able to decide that the fetus, in its full humanity, must die.") The position of many vocal pro-lifers is essentially a ham-fisted fundamentalism that requires the government to be a blunt instrument that enforces their morality and for each individual to accept a large amount of assumptions. This is wrong-headed on a variety of levels.